Insights Header image
Insights Header image
Insights Header image

City of Toronto Introduces Garden Suites

January 10, 2022 Commercial Real Estate Bulletin 3 minute read

In our previous bulletin we discussed key benefits and challenges of laneway housing in Canada, focusing on their growth in popularity in the City of Toronto (the “City”). In addition to laneway housing, the City has now started the process to permit landowners to construct “garden suites” in areas designated as “Neighbourhoods” under the City’s Official Plan (“OP”),[1] providing further opportunity for increasing the City’s limited housing supply.

Recently, the City initiated the process to amend its OP and Zoning By-Law 569-2013 to allow garden suites to be built on Neighbourhood-designated lands. The draft OP Amendment (“OPA 554”) is found here, and the draft Zoning By-law Amendment (“ZBA”) is found here. A garden suite is generally a smaller detached structure and separate rental housing unit located in the backyard of a residential lot, and is defined in draft OPA 554 as:

“a self-contained residential unit, subordinate to a primary dwelling, in which both kitchen and bathroom facilities are provided, and which is located on a lot within an ancillary building that is not adjacent to a public laneway.”[2]

The draft ZBA expressly states “[a] laneway suite is not a garden suite” – the key difference being that a garden suite does not abut (i.e., border) a lane.[3] Like laneway houses, however, garden suites are “non-severable”; that is, they remain part of the property upon which they are built.[4]

Per the City Planning Final Report to the Planning and Housing Committee dated December 21, 2021, the proposed amendments to permit garden suites is, in part, a response to Planning Act amendments requiring authorization in municipalities’ official plans of additional residential units on certain lots, and is also an outcome of the Garden Suites Study, which is part of the City’s Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods (EHON) work program. As discussed in our earlier bulletin on laneway suites, garden suites are being proposed in order to fill the “missing middle” in Toronto’s neighbourhoods, diversifying the types of housing available to the City’s residents.[5] Like laneway suites, the proposed OPA and ZBA regarding garden suites set out particular use and development standards to ensure minimal resulting impacts, including to health, safety and the environment. Anyone considering building a garden suite on their property should, carefully consult the final form of such documents once in force, as well as work with consultants with expertise in design, planning and the application and permitting process.

Notably, the statutory public meeting for consultation in respect of these proposed amendments is scheduled to be held this Wednesday, January 12, 2022. Stakeholders interested in, or who have concerns with, the proposed amendments may make oral or written submissions at the meeting, which will then be considered by Council in its decision to approve or reject the proposed amendments, or require further studies. For more information respecting the approvals process and timing, please see the Province’s guide here, or reach out to the authors for more information.

If you are looking for expert advice navigating the expanding housing options in the City of Toronto and related rules and regulations, including application processes, understanding development fees, or financing, please reach out to the authors of this bulletin to discover how McMillan LLP’s real estate, construction, municipal and land use planning, and capital markets teams can assist.

[1] See City of Toronto, “Garden Suites” (last visited 7 January 2022), online: Toronto.
[2] See page 2 of OPA 554.
[3] See page 1 of ZBA 569-2013.
[4] See City of Toronto, “Garden Suites” (last visited 7 January 2022), online: Toronto.
[5] See City of Toronto, “Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods” (last visited 7 January 2022), online: Toronto.

by Kailey Sutton, Alex Bruvels and Madeline Klimek (Student-At-Law)

A Cautionary Note

The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained.

© McMillan LLP 2022

Insights (5 Posts)View More

Featured Insight

Unpacking Ontario’s Proposed Strengthening Cyber Security and Building Trust in the Public Sector Act, 2024

Unpacking Ontario's Bill 194: Strengthening Cyber Security and Building Trust in the Public Sector Act, 2024. Key changes & compliance strategies detailed.

Read More
May 17, 2024
Featured Insight

Navigating International Student Worker Restrictions: Post-Expiry Guidelines for Employers

On April 30, 2024, Canada’s temporary waiver allowing international students to exceed 20 hours of work per week expired.

Read More
May 14, 2024
Featured Insight

Understanding the Consumer-Driven Banking Framework: Key Insights from the Budget Implementation Act, 2024, No.1

On April 30, the federal government introduced the Budget Implementation Act, 2024, No. 1, which provides the legislative framework for open banking in Canada.

Read More
May 13, 2024
Featured Insight

Legal Risk Assessments – An Essential Risk Management Tool

The best way to address the legal issues that arise in any business is to focus on their identification and resolution before they become legal problems.

Read More
May 9, 2024
Featured Insight

Jury’s Out: Bench Trials Are In

Ontario courts are leaning towards the elimination of civil jury trials, as evidenced in recent decisions out of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Read More
May 8, 2024